CD quality? Bah!

— 12:00 AM on October 16, 2000

Sony and Philips, the dynamic duo that brought you the compact disc, are at it again. This time it's SACD, a new format that offers up better quality than today's CD's. I first read about this in this story, then I popped over to Sony's site for some more technical details.

The new format uses Direct Stream Digital, or DSD, recording. Rather than a 44.1 Khz sample rate with a 16-bit word length, DSD manages to do 1-bit recording directly, with a sample rate of 2.82 Mhz. Yes, that's megahertz. Audiophiles are gushing about the sound, and Sony is releasing a new SACD capable player for $1200.

Of course, the big competitor to the format will be DVD audio, which can go as high as 192KHz with a 24-bit word length. I really don't see the SACD format taking off; although the DSD encoding technique could be technically superior to PCM, who's going to buy a $1200 piece of hardware that only plays music, when there's a $300 (or less) piece of hardware that can play music and movies?

It would be interesting to compare the two formats sonically, though. Speaking of that, what is the state of DVD audio right now? Anybody know? What (if any) software is available in the DVD audio spec? What players can or can't play them? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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